Supermarkets in flood-stricken areas of Queensland and NSW have slapped purchase limits on staples as shelves are again stripped bare.
Sales of milk, meat and some medicines, as well as toilet paper and bottled water, have been limited as the deadly flooding crisis causes massive supply headaches for the retail giants.
There has been panic buying and empty shelves at many supermarkets in flood-hit regions this week, with retailers warning shortages might last up to a week.
On Wednesday, as Sydney and other parts of NSW braced for the incoming storms, there were reports that the trend had shifted south.
Coles Group chief operations officer Matt Swindells said the “devastating floods” had hit many of Coles’ suppliers, and that about 150 stores have had to close at least temporarily due to flooding. Rival Woolworths has also had to temporarily shut some supermarkets or cut trading hours.
Hundreds of roads – including the Pacific Highway – remain closed across the flooded areas, further hindering supply chains.
On Wednesday, Coles introduced limits on a host of grocery staples in the flooded states. Mr Swindells told the Seven Network the limits would “make sure that our customers can get the essentials that they need”.
“As roads reopen and the clean-up begins, we want to assure customers that we are working hard to replenish shelves as quickly as possible and get essential food items into flood-affected regions,” he said.
Woolworths has imposed similar limits on essential products in Queensland, as road and rail closures affect supplies of a range of items, including mince, milk, rice, medicine and chicken.
The retailer is also limiting purchases of toilet paper and still water multipacks to one.
“The loss of key transport links because of flooding will regrettably have an impact on product availability in different parts of Queensland,” Woolworths general manager for Queensland Danny Baldwin said on Tuesday.
“We’ve placed temporary purchase limits on selected categories in affected stores to help ensure more customers have access to food and essentials while we work through this period of disruption.”
A list of Woolworths’ affected products and stores is available here.
Elsewhere, Cornetts IGA CEO Graham Booysen said the company’s 35 stores throughout Queensland would be re-stocked as soon as possible.
“I think within the next week or so we should be able to start seeing stock going out to those stores,” Mr Booysen told the ABC on Tuesday.
“I don’t think it’s going to be dramatic, I think there’ll be a few lines that will be an issue but we’ll get those back into stock pretty quickly.”